Keys to the Kingdom
If asked, "Are you in the Kingdom?" most of us would unequivocally reply, "Of course!" After all, we love and believe in God, we recognize that we are all his children, and we want to be perfect like him.
However, this process of entrance into the Kingdom appears to require more than a philosophical belief. It requires pain and effort, the first essential step being that of consciously accepting our childlike spiritual status--as repeatedly emphasized by Jesus, "I say to you in all sincerity: Unless you seek entrance into the kingdom with the faith and trusting dependence of a little child, you shall in no wise gain admission." (1536)
At first it appears simply a matter of faith declaration, "I am your child, God." However, the process is a little more complicated, with effort on our part for becoming as a little child is regarded as the price of admission to the kingdom (1545), and involves an active process of purging from our being our pet evils: "Almost every human being has some one thing which is held on to as a pet evil, and which the entrance into the kingdom of heaven requires as a part of the price of admission. " (1802)
And the experiencing of conflict, turmoil, and disappointment will be a certainty for, "The human mind does not well stand the conflict of double allegiance. It is a severe strain on the soul to undergo the experience of an effort to serve both good and evil. The supremely happy and efficiently unified mind is the one wholly dedicated to the doing of the will of the Father in heaven. Unresolved conflicts destroy unity and may terminate in mind disruption. But the survival character of a soul is not fostered by attempting to secure peace of mind at any price, by the surrender of noble aspirations, and by the compromise of spiritual ideals; rather is such peace attained by the stalwart assertion of the triumph of that which is true, and this victory is achieved in the overcoming of evil with the potent force of good." (1480)
How do we identify our pet evils? God will help us identify them once we make a sincere decision that we wish to enter his world (in contrast to the world we wish His world to be) for, "In all praying, remember that sonship is a gift. No child has aught to do with earning the status of son or daughter. The earth child comes into being by the will of its parents. Even so, the child of God comes into grace and the new life of the spirit by the will of the Father in heaven. Therefore must the kingdom of heaven--divine sonship--be received as by a little child. You earn righteousness--progressive character development--but you receive sonship by grace and through faith." (1621)
Have we discarded our pet evils, and are we in the kingdom? Each of us can apply an acid test to answer these questions, for whereas, "Faith is the price you pay for entrance into the family of God; but forgiveness is the act of God which accepts your faith as the price of admission. And the reception of the forgiveness of God by a kingdom believer involves a definite and actual experience and consists in the following four steps, the kingdom steps of inner righteousness:
· God as forgiveness is made actually available and is personally experienced by man just in so far as he forgives his fellows.
· Man will not truly forgive his fellows unless he loves them as himself.
· To thus love your neighbor as yourself is the highest ethics.
· Moral conduct, true righteousness, becomes, then, the natural result of such love. "(1861)
Once in the kingdom, which is an evolutionary experience, beginning here on earth and progressing up through successive life stations to Paradise (1603), life is hardly a bed of roses as we are required to demonstrate our fruit bearing potential and:
"If, therefore, you are not fruitful, he (God) will dig about your roots and cut away your unfruitful branches. Increasingly, must you yield the fruits of the spirit as you progress heavenward in the kingdom of God. You may enter the kingdom as a child, but the Father requires that you grow up, by grace, to the full stature of spiritual adulthood." (2054)